Coronavirus: Kim Jong-un seen for first time in 22 days amid virus outbreak

The dictator surfaced in public for the first time in 22 days as the deadly virus sweeps across Asia and the wider world. He was snapped at a national mausoleum to mark the anniversary of his late father’s birth. He paid tribute to Kim Jong-il at Pyongyang’s Kamsusan Palace of the Sun. 

A statue at the site depicts the former North Korean leader who died in 2011. 

The last time the country’s leader was seen in public was when he attended the Lunar New Year celebrations on January 25. 

State media Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) carried images of his most recent appearance. 

North Korea has not confirmed any cases of the new coronavirus. 

However, state media said the government was extending the quarantine period for people showing symptoms to 30 days.

All government institutions and foreigners living in the world’s most reclusive country were expected to comply “unconditionally.”

Kim’s birthday, which falls on February 16, is a national holiday celebrated as the Day of the Shining Star.

Accompanying Kim to the mausoleum were high ranking party officials.

The group included Choe Ryong Hae, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly and Pak Pong Ju, vice chairman of the State Affairs Commission.

Last week the US state department said Washington is “deeply concerned” about the possible impact of a coronavirus outbreak in North Korea.

It added the US is prepared to help the North Koreans tackle the spread of the mysterious virus, which has infected more than 69,000 people worldwide. 

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A total of 1,669 people have died from coronavirus, the majority of whom were in China. 

Morgan Ortagus, spokeswoman for the department, said on Thursday: “We strongly support and encourage the work of US and international aid and health organisations to counter and contain the spread of coronavirus in the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea). 

Her comments came after the Red Cross called for an urgent exemption to sanctions on Pyongyang to help prevent a coronavirus outbreak.

She added: “The United States is ready and prepared to expeditiously facilitate the approval of assistance from these organisations.” 

On Sunday it emerged that a taxi driver died from the coronavirus in Taiwan, marking the first such death on the island and the fifth fatality outside mainland China from an epidemic that has curbed travel and disrupted global supply chains.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said during a news conference that the deceased person was a 61-year-old man who had diabetes and hepatitis B. 

Taiwan has to date accumulated 20 confirmed cases.

The deceased person had not traveled abroad recently and was a taxi driver whose clients were mainly from Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China, the minister said. 

One of his family members was also confirmed to have the virus.

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